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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  June 21, 2016 10:00am-12:31pm EDT

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speeches on the heels of four failed attempts to pass gun legislation yesterday. the senate will stand in recess so members can attend party meetings between 12:30 and 2:15 p.m.. now live to the senate floor on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. god and father of all, without whom our labor is but lost and with whom the weak are made mighty, make us worthy of your mercies. lord, help our lawmakers to find strength in your abiding love.
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lift their minds to the pure, t serenity of your presence challenges with faith and challenges with faith and optimism. may they find delight in doing your will because your precepts are within their hearts. remind them that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. deliver them from sins of commission and omission. as you liberate them from all lessor loves and loyalties until they find in you their reason for
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being. we pray in your holy name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: yesterday the justice department released a transcript of the orlando terrorist 911 call in which he claimed responsibility for the attack and declared his loyalty to isil. what's your name, the operator said. my name, he said, is i pledge allegiance to abu baku al-baghdadi of the islamic state. it was 2:30 a.m., a half-hour into his terrorist attack. the terrorist would soon meet his end at the hands of law enforcement and first responders would make their way through the aftermath of the isil-inspired hatred and the deafening hum of
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unanswered cell phones crescendos around them. the c.i.a. director called this an open attack on what defines us as a nation and the report he delivered to congress last week was sobering. here's what seems clear to me. it seems clear that this vile, hateful terrorist organization is going to keep bringing tragedies to our doorsteps until we defeat isil, where it actually trains, operates and prepares for attacks. places like iraq and syria. it also seems clear that the president's current containment strategy has not been sufficient to defeat isil abroad or to prevent more isil-inspired attacks right here at home. the president needs to lead a
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campaign to accomplish this objective. senators in both parties should work to fight terror beyond our borders and prevent attacks within them. this is an area where republicans have long been focused. now is the time for democrats to join us too. work with us to connect the dots on terrorist communications. work with us to address the threat of lone wolf attacks. work with us to prevent more americans from being inspired by isil like the terrorists in orlando. yesterday democrats had a chance to support serious constitutional proposals from senator cornyn and grassley that would have helped keep guns and explosives out of the hands of terrorists and improve the national background check system. and while a majority of the senate voted to support these proposals, most democrats voted against both. so let me say again, senator
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cornyn put forward a serious proposal designed to prevent known or suspected terrorists from being able to buy guns, and democrats voted against it. now does that mean democrats have decided to sell weapons to isil? of course not. democrats surely don't believe their leadership claim that any senator voted to sell gun to terrorists last night. just as democrats really don't believe that every democrat who voted against the cornyn amendment to block such sales and take terrorists off the streets is guilty of voting to sell guns to terrorists. we all agree that the obama administration must prevent the sale of guns to terrorists. disagreeing on how best to do that doesn't require amateur claims that we all know to be false. so why don't we get serious. isil is not the j.v. team. it's not contained. and we need to defeat it overseas if we want to prevent more terrorist tragedies here at
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home. by working together in the senate, we can give this president and the next one more tools to achieve that objective. and we can advance commonsense, counter terrorist solutions to keep americans safer here at home. this week we will have the opportunity to strengthen our ability to combat lone wolf terrorists and connect the dots so we're better able to prevent terrorist attacks here in the u.s. it's an example of serious, thoughtful policy where we can work together to make progress for the american people. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: last night the republican leader filed cloture on the mccain amendment. the republican leader is committed to allow a democratic
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alternative to the pending mccain amendment and we'll have one -- we have it ready now. i'll have it typed up and ready to go in a couple of hours. mr. president, in the aftermath of last week's mass murder in orlando which took the lives of 49 people, we saw where the american people stand on gun control. we know that gun safety is essential to making us safer, a more secure america. an example of what went on in orlando after that terrible morning, people stood for hours in long lines waiting to donate blood. people attended gatherings to express their grief. people left flowers and figurines at the memorials. people stood in line to honor the lgbt community and the
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latino community who were slaughtered. here in the capitol, senator phur -- murphy stood on the floor of the senate for 15 hours demanding congress stop the gun violence. in florida families of victims stood at graveside services for their loved ones. where were senate republicans? where do they stand? yet again senate republicans stood with the national rifle association. yesterday the leader of gun owners of america, the shadow organization of the n.r.a., said he believed people should be armed in bars and taverns. that's what he said. last night for the third time in as many years senate republicans stood with the n.r.a. in blocking commonsense gun legislation that would keep firearms and explosives way from suspected terrorists and other individuals. senate republicans proved again that regardless of how brutal the massacre or how reasonable a
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solution, untimely, it doesn't matter, there's never a good time. their actions will be dictated by the national rifle association. a cnn poll released yesterday, 90% of americans support expanded background checks. 85% of americans support legislation keeping guns away from suspected terrorists. there's one reason that these proposals were not already law. the national rifle association. because they oppose anything dealing with guns. how can senate republicans side with the n.r.a. and against the american people? 90% of americans support expanded background checks. if you're a criminal or a crazy person, you shouldn't be able to get a gun. 85% of americans support legislation keeping guns away from suspected terrorists, but the n.r.a. doesn't support it, so senate republicans don't
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support it. here's a little secret for my republican colleagues. the n.r.a. doesn't care about you. it doesn't care about your constituents. it doesn't care about the constitutional rights of the followers. the n.r.a. and its leadership care about two things: making money from gun manufacturers and making money for the n.r.a. and selling more guns. the n.r.a. wants gun manufacturers to be able to make more guns. never enough. the n.r.a. wants to have more firearms sold, more guns sold means more money and more donations for their bottom line. during times of crisis when americans should be coming together to find these commonsense solutions, what does the n.r.a. do? they raise every dollar they can by spreading lies and fomenting these conspiracy theories. the mail's out, folks. go to your mailbox. direct mail is their specialty. they circulate false director
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mailers to followers. for example, congress is trying to take away your guns or president obama wants to con fiscal -- confiscate your firearms. they use that money against candidates who refuse to bow down to the gun lobby. taking a page from the koch brothers play book the n.r.a. uses so-called dark money for miss steer -- elections with front groups. the n.r.a. says they're spending the money to protect gun owners. let's be clear what it's really about. it's about protecting the power of the national rifle association. since the supreme court's misguided citizens united decision, the n.r.a. tripled its political spending to support their radical agenda. but republicans in congress don't acknowledge any of this. senate republicans pretend the n.r.a. is simply a grass roots organization working for america's best interests. nothing can be further from the
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truth. this is false. the n.r.a. used to advocate mandatory background khefps. they used to encourage reasonable legislation to keep guns away from certain individuals. a month after the coal mining shooting where two young men killed a lot of innocent people, wayne la pierre, the executive vice president of the national rifle association, the man that goes on tv all the time justifying what they do, testified before a house judiciary subcommittee on crime. here's what he said -- and i quote -- "we think it's reasonable to provide mandatory assistant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. no loopholes anywhere for anyone." wayne la pierre said that. now in 2016 it's a different story. just yesterday this same organization pressured senate republicans to vote against closing the loopholes he said should be closed. senate republicans voted against
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the murphy amendment that would have closed loopholes in our nation's background check system. senate republicans voted for senator feinstein, but no, no, that's what we had hoped. in fact, they voted against senator feinstein's amendment that would have closed the terror loophole. the terror loophole which simply allows suspected terrorists to legally purchase weapons and explosives. we believe it should be closed but it's not because republicans follow the n.r.a. mandate. that's how strong the hold is. republicans won't agree to keep guns away from terrorists. the republican congress has been so thoroughly indoctrinated that it is the national league of the national rifle association. while republicans do the bidding of the n.r.a. innocent americans are being gunned down in schools, churches and nightclubs. how many more mass shootings will we have to endure before
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republicans realize they're being used by the n.r.a.? how many more people have to die before republicans come to grips with the fact that the n.r.a.'s only concern is about its bottom line? the american people are looking to congress for leadership. they're hoping we'll do something substantive to protect our communities from gun violence but the simple truth is we cannot protect the american people and protect the n.r.a. at the same time. public safety demands a solution that prevents dangerous people from possessing weapons. the n.r.a. uses this solely as a fundraising vehicle for more guns, more bullets and fewer safeguards. so it's time for republicans in congress to defend the people who sent them to washington in the first place and put the personal safety of the constituents over the needs of the n.r.a. it's time for republicans to tell the n.r.a. enough murder, enough carnage, enough guns. mr. president, there is no one
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on the floor seeking recognition. i would ask the chair to announce the business of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 12:30 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. reid: i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: the whole world knows that on june 12, a gunman shot and killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in the worst mass shooting in modern american history, but what you may not know is that there have been at least ten other mass shooting incidents in america since orlando. by mass shootings, i mean incidents where at least four people were injured or killed by gunfire. two of those mass shootings were in chicago, in my home state of illinois. on june 13, five men were shot in the east garfield park naked. and on june 18 -- park neighborhood. on june 18, four people were shot in the middle of the afternoon in the north shore neighborhood. fortunately, none of the victims in these mass shootings were fatally wounded, but since the orlando shooting, there have been many other gun violence victims in chicago who have lost their lives. last friday, yvonne nelson, a city worker, was shot and killed walking out of a coffee shop on
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the south side in the middle of the afternoon. the shooter was aiming for someone else in an apparent gang dispute, but miss nelson was shot in the chest and killed. she was 49 years old, a member of the new life covenant church, beloved by friends and family. she was described as a beautiful person, hard working, loving, kind. she was taken from us last friday. last thursday, denzel thornton who worked for the chicago public school system, was shot and killed outside the entrance of mcnair elementary school in the south austin neighborhood shortly after noon. he was 20 years old, graduated from dupaul university and aspired to be a chef. he was a promising man with a bright future ahead of him. he was taken from us in the middle of the day as the elementary school children looked on. this past weekend, 13 people were shot and killed in chicago,
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and at least 41 others were injured by gunfire. the youngest shooting victim was only 3 years old. so far this year, over 1,700 men, women and children have been wounded or killed by gunfire in the city of chicago. i'll keep the victims and their families and loved ones in my thoughts and prayers, but thoughts and prayers are not enough. it's our responsibility as lawmakers to do everything in our power to protect the people we represent and to stop the killing in the neighborhoods of america. last friday, i visited the city of chicago and went to several different spots to get a prospective on this gun violence and killing. i met for an hour with the superintendent of police, eddie johnson. 28 years on the chicago police force. this is a man who started as a patrolman. he understands the violence on the streets. we talked about so many different things. they have identified 1,300,
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1,300 who they suspect are most likely to be shooters or victims. these are men, by and large, with a history of gun violence. over the memorial day weekend, approximately 66 people were shot in the city of chicago. 80% of them came from the list. so we have a finite list of suspects whose names pop up more often than not when it comes to this gun violence. we talked about ways to address it, and there are many people thinking about it, how to deal with it in the right way, in a constitutional way but in a specific -- with a specific strategy to end this gun violence. a superintendent told me a story. he said, you know, after you have been a cop in chicago for a while, you get pretty tough. there aren't many things that make you emotional. he says but i do remember when there was a shooting in a home
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and a grandmother was killed and a toddler next to her was killed, and we arrested the 15-year-old, and the superintendent said i looked in his eyes and i said what were you thinking to spray that gun of shells into that home and killing that grandmother and the toddler, and he said that young man looked him in the eye and said they shouldn't have been there. they should have known better. and the superintendent said i was crushed with that comment. i talked to him about a visit i made to the juvenile facility about six weeks ago in chicago to meet some of the young people who were waiting to stand trial. they had been charged with adult crimes. they were in the juvenile facility being held until the date of the trial. some of them wait a year or two years. they take on a life in this juvenile center. there is a high school, a gym, activities. but there is also counseling. so for many of these young
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people, this is the first time ever that someone with professional credentials sat down with them and tried to figure out what was going on in their minds, where they would commit these crimes of violence. i asked one of the counselors afterwards, what do you find? what kind of mental condition do you find in these young people who were engaged in this random violence? he said you find everything. the spectrum of mental illness from bipolar to schizophrenia to acute depression and on and on and on, but he said there is one recurring thing. 92% of these juveniles have a recurring thing. i said what is it? they have either been the victims of or witnessed violent trauma. 92% of them. we think about ptsd, men and women who take on the uniform of the united states and go off to
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war and who either hurt themselves or witness violence that occurs on the battlefield, and they come home troubled and needing counseling and help. these folks are by and large over the age of 18. but now we're talking about teenagers and adolescents having gone through the same or similar experience with violence. what impact does that have on the human mind of an adolescent? are we dealing with some form of post trauma stress disorder that makes them so hardened and calloused, they don't even appreciate the violence of their own lives and their own acts? i think that's a very real concern. now, let me quickly interject, struggling with mental illness does not mean you're going to be a violent criminal at all. it is more likely that you're going to be the victim of a crime with your mental illness
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and mental condition, but we have to take an honest look at this aspect of what we are dealing with when it comes to violence. friday night, i went to a friend, a controversial friend, to some a radical catholic priest in chicago, but where i'm standing, a man who has given his life to a neighborhood that desperately needed him. his name is mike phleger. he is a catholic priest at st. sabinas in chicago. he had a peace march on friday night. father mike brought out probably 400 people. we had a rally. at that rally, mothers stood up and read the names of those under the age of 20 who have been killed this year in the city of chicago. they read 150 names ranging from 20 years of age to zero, babies that were shot and killed. there were a lot of tears that
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night over the losses, and a reminder that the statistics that we read every single day in the newspaper are real human lives causing real human pain and suffering to the families that survive. and then father mike rallied everybody and took them out on the march through the neighborhood there, trying to reclaim one of the toughest, most challenging areas in the city of chicago. so what are we going to do about it? the united states senate right here in washington, d.c. last night it was a disappointment. many of us took to the floor to join senator murphy last week in his filibuster. he was the leader, and i give him the credit for his steely determination to stand here, literally stand here for, i believe, 15 hours in filibuster to force the votes we had last night. senator mcconnell, the republican leader, agreed to have those votes, and after they
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were finished, all four amendments were defeated. and i'm sure many people across the country said what a waste of time, that the senate would acknowledge the problem and yet not find a solution to move forward. well, i would add quickly that we haven't given up and we shouldn't. senator susan collins of maine is working on an amendment now relative to the question of whether suspected terrorists should be able to buy firearms in america. i think that is a pretty clear question and answer for most americans. 90% say for goodness sakes, stop suspected terrorists from getting their hands on weapons. and yet we defeated senator feinstein's effort last night to do just that. i voted for it but didn't get the 60 votes needed. senator collins has picked up the banner, and she is trying to put together a bipartisan measure. we haven't seen it in its entirety, but i want to encourage her, and i've tried,
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by working with her to plug in some of the gaps, answer some of the questions about her approach. i hope that she is successful, and i hope that a bipartisan measure emerges from the senate and puts pressure on the house of representatives. there is absolutely no excuse for us not doing everything in our power to keep automatic weapons out of the hands of suspected terrorists, convicted felons and those who suffer from serious mental instability. how deadly are these weapons? there's something called snapchat, which is -- i'm not an expert on by any means but is a video that lasts about ten seconds. one of the victims of the pulse nightclub in orlando turned on her snapchat video as the firing started, and in a span of nine seconds, you can count 17 rounds that were fired into the crowd, one of which killed the woman who was taking the video. that's the kind of weapon that this crazed man was able to buy
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and take into a nightclub and kill 49 innocent people and injured more than 50. why would we make that easy for someone who is a suspected terrorist? does that really reflect what we feel in america? i don't think so. 90% of americans think we should do just the opposite, stop these suspected terrorists from having easy access. there was an amendment offered yesterday by senator cornyn of texas, supported by the national rifle association. it did not pass. i voted against it. it was not a valid approach to dealing with this issue because senator cornyn required if a suspected terrorist was going to buy a firearm that the burden was on the u.s. government to go to court if they challenged their being on a terrorist list. the burden was on the government within 72 hours to come up with a lawsuit, a criminal action to
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stop the person from purchasing the firearm. if that same person wanted to get on an airplane in the state of texas and was on the no-fly list, they wouldn't get on the airplane. it wouldn't be a question of the government going to court to prove it. for the safety of the other passengers, we would keep that suspected terrorist off the airplane. why not when it comes to automatic weapons? shouldn't the burden at least be in favor of security and safety of the people of the united states? that is still an issue for us to resolve. so is congress doing all that it can to stop the daily toll of gun violence and the involvement of guns with suspected terrorists? not even close. so many shootings are preventable. they never would have happened if laws did a better job keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people. but too many members of congress are afraid to stand up to the gun lobby. they're afraid to vote for commonsense reforms supported by 90% of the american people for
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fear that the n.r.a. will come after them in the next election. remember, the gun lobby fights laws that make it harder for them to sell guns. first and foremost, they are not constitutional scholars. they are sellers of firearms. and they want to sell increasingly large volumes of their product so that they can be making more profits. the national rifle association and gun lobby groups are constantly working to weaken laws on the books and prevent any new laws that might hurt their sales. as a result, we have a ludicrous set of loopholes in our law that allows criminals, the mentally ill and even suspected terrorists to buy guns. we can't let this continue. as lawmakers we have a responsibility to protect americans from gun violence. after last night's votes, it's clear we haven't done our job. last week the american medical association declared in an official statement that gun
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violence in america is -- quote -- "a public health crisis requiring a comprehensive public health response and solution." this was the first such declaration that's been made by our nation's largest medical association, and i commend the a.m.a. for their leadership. the numbers behind their decision are staggering. every year almost 32,000 americans are killed with guns. on an average, 297 americans and 91 of those shootings are fatal on an average day in america. communities across the nation are affected by this violence. cities like chicago, the daily tolls of these shootings is devastating. last week when i joined senator murphy and almost 40 other democratic colleagues, we spoke out -- tried to speak out to get the senate to debate this issue. not just a quick drive-by vote of four amendments take it or
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leave it, but a meaningful debate with real alternatives brought to the floor. the filibuster lasted 15 hours. it caught the attention of the nation. when i went home this weekend, having been in this business for awhile, i can really tell whether our activities out here are even noticed. they were. that filibustered was noticed. people came up to me and said thank goodness you're finally going to say something, do something, vote on this issue of ending gun violence. well, words are not enough and the votes last night are not enough. we need to start with commonsense reforms supported by the overwhelming majority of americans. keeping firearms out of the hands of suspected terrorists shouldn't even be debated. it's so obvious. we should prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns and make sure the f.b.i. criminal background check is conducted every time a gun is sold. there is no excuse for what is going on now in northern indiana. gun shows take place regularly there. guns are sold in volume out of
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those gun shows with no background checks on the buyers. so the gang bangers of chicago and the others head over to northern indiana -- it's just across the border -- fill up their trunks with guns and bring them into the city of chicago. the police department and the city of chicago has confiscated one crime gun per hour for every day this year, and we still have this huge backlog of guns that are floating through the community in the hands of those who have no business owning or using a gun. the chicago police department is trying to keep up with this wave of firearms flooding our city. they've confiscated more guns than the cities of new york and los angeles combined and still they can't keep up with it. there's no excuse for the gun show hraob -- loophole. we should have serious meaningful background checks of everyone purchasing firearms. a conscientious, self--respecting gun owners of america agree with this.
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they went through a background check to buy their guns. they think people should do this as well to avoid selling guns to the wrong people. we must never forget our obligation to do everything we can to keep america safe. our first obligation: provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare. security domestic tranquillity in the united states. if that is our obligation, there is much more that needs to be done. keeping america safe from gun violence. thousands of americans are shot and killed each year in shootings that could have been prevented. there are steps we can take consistent with our constitution and with our tradition of supporting, hunting, sport shooting, guns for self-defense, we can still take meaningful steps to avoid tragic death and we shouldn't be afraid to do that. i'm not going to quit on this issue, and many of my colleagues will not either. i ask the american people don't quit and don't get discouraged. keep speaking out for commonsense reforms as the american medical association did
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last week. when people say to me what can i do, i say in our democratic form of government, it's very basic. it's called an election. if this issue of gun safety means something to you, ask that member of congress or that congressional candidate, that senator or the senatorial candidate where they stand, and if it's important enough make your vote follow the answer. join us and stand together. we can beat back the gun lobby and start saving lives and protecting the innocent across america. we can do this, and we must. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. flake: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: mr. president, i come to the floor today to announce my support, my hope that all of us will support the bipartisan compromise that will be proffered this afternoon by senator collins, myself, senator heitkamp and others on the democratic side to actually put something on the floor that is not signed to fail but that is designed to pass. many of us have been concerned that we used lists that actually mean something.
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we believe that somebody who is not allowed to fly, somebody who is on the no-fly list should not be allowed to purchase a weapon. but that those people who find themselves in that position should be afforded due process protections as well, as is necessary under the constitution. the problem is with a broader watch list that there was an amendment on last night, this is a broad watch list with more than a million people. bits and pieces of information from many of our intelligence agencies. it isn't really designed for this purpose. so what we have done with this compromise piece of legislation is taken the no-fly list as well as what's called the selectee list, which is a slightly broader list of those who are allowed to fly but are retained for additional screening. these are defined lifts much smaller, affect a far smaller
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group of americans. if you find yourself on these lists, then the attorney general would have the ability to block that gun purchase, but you would be given robust due process protections as well where you could challenge and it would be -- the presumption of innocence would be there and it would be the government's job to actually prove that you belong on this list and should be denied the purchase of a weapon. if the government cannot prove their case, the government would actually pay the attorneys' fees as well, so there are strong, robust due process protections here as well. but this is simply based on the principle that if you are denied the right to fly, that it stands to reason that you should not be able to, without additional checks, purchase a weapon. that's what this compromise piece of legislation is all
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about. a lot will be said outside of this body, that it's intended for other purposes, but i would encourage everyone to look at the legislation that we introduced this afternoon. it has -- that we dues this afternoon. it has bipartisan support, unlike most of what has been put forward so far, and it has growing support as well. we actually believe we ought to put something on the floor that will pass, not just protect one party or the other in terms of an election coming up. we want to actually have an enact on the situation there. so with that, mr. president, i yield back and urge support for the bipartisan compromise that will be introduced this afternoon. i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cotton: on september 2, 1939, the house of commons convened to debate whether to
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declare war on germany for having invaded poland. surprisingly to many, prime minister chamberlain seemed ambivalent and didn't immediately call for declaration one day he was absent. when his deputy rose and declared he would speak for labor, a man yelled from across the floor, speak for england. i'm here today to speak for england, for great britain; indeed, for all the united kingdom. this thursday, june 23, the british people will decide a momentous question. should the united kingdom remain a member of the european union or leave the european union? i have not stated nor will i state today a position on this question. the british people alone should decide their policy toward the continent. what i will defend is their sovereign right as a people to
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decide this question free of external influences, foreign threats and hysterical fearmongering. the great and the good, the elite are united in horror at the prospect of a british exit from the u.e. and according to to these eurocrats if the british people choose to leave the e.u., then the people must be punished. some have called for immediate tax increases and budget cuts should the leave campaign win. business leaders threaten to move jobs out of britain into the continent. many economists speculate that recession is the best possible outcome with depression the more likely outcome. most disappointing of all, foreign governments have made egregious threats of retaliation in trade, financial and other economic matters both to punish the british people for exercising their sovereign right of self-government and to intimidate the other peoples of europe from doing the same. i would say the only thing they
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aren't predicting is war and pestilence, but they are. indeed, one leading eurocrat said a british exit could mean -- quote -- "the end of western civilization." if the elite were doing a passable job of governing their own countries, perhaps their unsolicited advice might be heeded but europe is beset by its own problems not least caused by the democracy deficit in the european peen union. with no coordination or accountability the eurocrats allowed migrants to overrun their continent. most lacked the education to contribute meaningfully to european economies. some migrants went on crime sprees and terrorists infiltrated the migrant flows to enter france and commit the paris attacks. meanwhile, the migrant flow
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continues across the mediterranean with hundreds dying en route. what's the eurocrats' policy? if you survive the trip, you can stay. how is that moral? how is that wise? the economies of europe aren't much better. many countries are trapped in unpayable mountains of debt saddled with austerity plans merely to make the next repayment and avoid default. unemployment is high and for young people it is rampant and chronic. growth is negligible. in fact, the only continent with lower growth than europe is antarctica. i'm amazeds, maybe even a little amused, that despite these and other manifest failures, the euro crats continue to lecture the people. after all, if the e.u. loses great britain, europe will lose
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350 million pounds a week and it will lose a dumping ground for a quarter million migrants a year. the stakes are pretty high for brussels but that doesn't justify their flagrant interference with europe's domestic politics. since the elite are threatening to leave to punish the brits let me say in response the american people will stand with our british cousins no matter what they decide. if the continent dares to retaliate against britain, i will do everything in my power to defend and strengthen the anglo american alliance that built so much of the modern world and on which it still depends. the eurocrats may still want to punish britain but they might recall that is not the only land in which punishment can be brought to bear. i heard from many who were
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eager, desperate to consummate the trans-atlantic trade and partnership. we have a reminder that the small continents rely heavily to support counterterrorism efforts and of course need anyone be reminded which nato -p continent underwrites the dependence on europe particularly in the face of russia, it would be regrettable if a continental temper tantrum perilled our relationship with the united states. one would hope cooler heads prevail should the british people elect to leave the e.u. one would hope brussels, paris, berlin and other capitals will realize that britain in or out of the e.u. is a nato ally, a trading partner, and a friend in freedom. one would hope that a british exit, if that is britain's
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choice, would be followed by the spirit of magnanimity, generosity and continued friendship. but hopes aside, one should know this. the american people will stand with britain in or out of the e.u. and will stand against punitive retaliation against the british people. of course i must admit unfortunately, though not surprisingly, our own government is also sticking its nose where it doesn't belong. president obama traveled to london last month to say a newly it free britain would go to the back of the queue in trade negotiations with the u.s. united states trade representative michael froman cautioned we're not particularly in the market for free trade agreements with individual countries. this strange combination of arrogance and ignorance is all too typical of the obama administration. the united states has a
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bilateral trade agreement with owe man but a negotiated bilateral trade agreement to support the relationship with great britain, our ancestral ally, no, sir, we'll have none of that nonsense. for the record, let it be noted that the american people will stand up to the great and the good not only on the continent but also here in washington if this or any future administration tries to punish britain should it leave the e.u. and just as i'll do everything in my power to preserve our special relationship against continental meddling, i'll do the same with any administration who doesn't fully appreciate that relationship. i suspect many other senators feel the same. put simply, there will be a new bilateral trade agreement. nato will survive. our partnership will continue and the special relationship will remain in bedrock for the prosperity and security of both our nations.
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the british people can cast their votes certain of those things. the british people deserve nothing less. were it not for them in europe, indeed the world over might still be a mere plaything of kings and tyrants. of all the peoples of the world, surely the brits earned the sovereign right to govern their own affairs free of external influence or threats of retaliation. like most americans, i stand in admiration of great britain and i stand with the british people in or out of the e.u. i also call on the davoise elites on the great and the good to spend less time fulminating about british democracy in action and a little more time looking in the mirror at their own failures. populist uncertainties are raging on both sides of the atlantic on both the left and the right. rather than obsess about great britain, rather than keep the populace at bay one desperate
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election at a time, these leaders should consider why these uncertainties are gaining in every election. stagnant wages for the working class, uncontrolled migration without regard to economic need or cultural assimilation, islamic terrorists massacring our citizens and a loss of national honor around the world. this record is not pretty. in politics, as in medicine, it's usually better to address the cause and the symptom. if our leaders address these challenges more creatively, more forthrightly, more effectively, perhaps neither the british people nor so many other peoples would be disappointed in their leaders to begin with. let the british people manage their own affairs, whether right or wrong in your eyes, and in the words of scripture, whatever you may think of their moat, take care of your own first. mr. president, i yield the
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floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. cotton: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cotton: i would like to recognize joel spencer of little rock, arkansas, as this week's arkansan of the week for his dedication to educating the next generation of computer coders, teaching students computer coding skills and training other teachers as well. studies show that students who learn coding and computer science at a young age are more successful later on, and joel spencer wants to make sure each child who comes through his classroom has the opportunity for that success. joel is an elementary science specialist and teacher in the little rock school district, and each week teaches over 500 students. but his dedication to learning doesn't end there. joel also conducts an after-school computer science first club, a lego mind storm robotics club and various other day camps around the state to introduce arkansas students to programming. to say he is passionate about computer science education is an
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understatement. children aren't the only ones joel teaches. he is also dedicated to helping his fellow teachers become better educators. joel serves as an affiliate trainer for, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science and increasing participation by women and underrepresented groups. through his work with this organization, joel has trained over 1,000 teachers in code curriculum. he was also part of the committee that developed and adopted the k-8 computer science standards in arkansas. joel's dedication to computer coding education hasn't gone unnoticed. he received the arkansas association of instructional media technology teacher of the year award in the state of arkansas and is also a nominee for the presidential award for excellence in math and science. during national appreciation week -- national teacher appreciation week earlier this year, he was one of the computer science teachers recognized by president obama at the
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whitehouse. while he was in -- at the white house. while he was in town for that ceremony, joel made some time to visit my office and share his passion for computer coding education. i'm proud that arkansas has teachers like joel who are making students' futures brighter each day. it's my honor to recognize joel spencer as this week's arkansan of the week. i'm confident that our state and nation's future is brighter because of his work to inspire students to rise to the challenges of the 21st century. mr. president, i yield the floor and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, two weeks ago, i came to the senate floor to discuss the numerous foreign policy failures of the obama administration. while there has been no shortage of examples over the past seven years, i'd like to revisit one particular subject from the litany of this administration's errors. the very serious national security threat that president obama once called a j.v. team. mr. president, last november, president obama participated in an interview with "good morning america" host george
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stephanopoulos who asked him the following question -- isis is gaining strength, aren't they? the president's reply, and i quote -- "well, no, i don't think they're gaining strength. what is true is that from the start, our goal has been to contain, and we have contained them." end quote. one day later, one day later, isis gunman and suicide bombers attacked paris and killed 136 people. less than a month after that, two isis-inspired terrorists killed 14 people in the first home-grown isis attack on american soil. and now orlando, the worst terrorist attack on america's homeland since 9/11. so much for we have contained them. unfortunately, mr. president, despite these attacks, president obama continues to paint an unrealistically rosy picture of our success against isis. emerging from a meeting last week, the president declared that, and i quote, we are making
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significant progress -- end quote, in the fight against isis. he went on to say, and i quote -- isis ranks are shrinking. their morale is sinking. two days later, however, the president's c.i.a. director painted a very different picture. testifying before congress, c.i.a. director john brennan stated, and i quote, unfortunately despite all our progress against isil in the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach." end quote. let me repeat that, mr. president. our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach. that's something the president neglected to mention two days earlier. and that's not the only thing he forget to bring up. the president discussed the
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anti-isis coalition's efforts to target isis funding, but he neglected to mention that those efforts have still left isis with a robust revenue stream. the c.i.a. director noted that, and i quote again, isil continues to generate at least tens of millions of dollars in revenue per month primarily from taxation and from crude oil sales. that's end quote. the president hailed accomplishments on the ground in iraq and syria, but he didn't mention, though, successes are doing essentially nothing to reduce isis' ability to attack abroad. this is again a quote from director brennan. the group's foreign branches and global networks can help preserve its capacity for terrorism, regardless of events in iraq and syria. in fact, as the pressure mounts on isil, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global
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terrorism agenda -- end quote. that again from director brennan. the president noted that isis is losing ground in libya, but he forget to mention that isis' libyan branch is perhaps most dangerous and poses a real threat to africa and europe. director brennan testified again, and i quote, isil is gradually cultivating its global network of branches into a more interconnected organization. the branch in libya is probably the most developed and the most dangerous. we assess that it is trying to increase its influence in africa and to plot attacks in the region and in europe -- end quote. mr. president, if there is one thing that director brennan's testimony made clear, it's that we're not doing enough to confront the threat posed by isis. unfortunately, that's not something that president obama seems to understand. as his remarks last week made clear, the president is more
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interested in explaining why he doesn't like the term radical islam than he is in offering a concrete plan to actually defeat isis. madam president, it's difficult to understand why the president so resolutely avoids this term. the fact of the matter is isis and its adherents are driven by the radical interpretation of islam. how can we hope to confront this terrorist ideology if we can't actually call it by its name? on the same note, what was the administration hoping to accomplish when it redacted references to isis in its initial release of the 911 transcripts from the orlando attack? was it hoping to somehow distract from the fact that this was a terrorist attack? did it want to play down the fact that isis is now inspiring attacks in the united states?
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unfortunately, madam president, our commander in chief's disturbing reluctance to identify our enemy by its name is emblematic of the fundamental lack of seriousness that has characterized the president's foreign policy. the attack in orlando was a terrorist attack. yet the president's response was a form lay i can call for gun control. madam president, all the gun control laws in the world are not going to stop a terrorist bent on wreaking havoc in our country. france's strict gun control laws didn't prevent terrorists from slaughtering 130 people last november. to stop isis-inspired attacks, we need to stop isis, and to do that, we need a serious comprehensive plan from the president. what i wish we had heard last week from the president is concrete proposals to counter the threat of home-grown
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terrorism. he could have talked about ways to make sure our intelligence agencies have the resources that they need to track and counter isis efforts to communicate with its recruits in the west. he could have discussed ways to address the threat of lone wolf terrorists. key have talked about ways we can improve our ability to monitor terrorist communications to disrupt their plans. he could have called on senate democrats to support senator cornyn's amendment to give the attorney general the authority to act on probable cause against would-be terrorists while preserving due process to protect second amendment rights. but he didn't. instead he issued a brief call for gun control and spent a large chunk of his speech defending his refusal to use the term "radical islam."
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madam president, when president obama was elected, we were told that he would restore america's standing in the world. in fact, he received a nobel peace prize in the first year of his first term based solely on people's belief that he would promote peace and bring stability to world affairs. i thought of that, madam president, when i saw this statement from c.i.a. director brennan toward the end of his testimony last week. the director said and i quote again, "i have never seen a time when our country faced such a wide variety of threats to our national security." again, from c.i.a. director brennan's testimony just last week. madam president, president obama is certainly not responsible for all the unrest in the world today, but the unfortunate truth is that his foreign policy
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failures have contributed to a lot of it. his politically motivated decision to withdraw our troops from iraq and announce the timetable to our enemies created the vacuum that isis quickly moved in to fill. his decision not to act when syrian president bashar al-assad crossed the red line the president himself had drawn sent a message to tyrants and dictators the world over that america could be ignored at will. the president's nuclear deal with iran has left that country better equipped to acquire advanced nuclear weapons down the road. madam president, president obama is nearing the end of his term, but there is still time for him to commit to working with republicans to take the steps that are necessary to not just contain but to actually defeat isis.
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there's still time for him to focus on controlling our borders so terrorists don't slip across without our knowledge. there's still time for him to take measures to strengthen our counterterrorism capabilities. and there's still time for him to focus on supporting federal and local law enforcement in their efforts to stop terrorism. madam president, i hope in the coming days that the president will see his way to offering some serious solutions to the danger that isis poses to our nation. it is high time that that happened. madam president, i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask that the calling of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection grass madam president, i rise today to speak about the changing nature of globalization. everyone is aware that globalizatioglobalization has cw economies work. some people have embraced globalization while others are fighting to slow its effects. in america most people are familiar with the modern multinational corporation. these corporations are privately owned by shareholders and operate in countries around the world. however, there is a new trend
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that is becoming increasingly evident in commerce today. we're now seeing entities that are owned by governments competing with private companies in the automotive, food and airline industries that represent more traditional commerce. over the last several decades, governments through entities called state-owned enterprises have become highly involved in international commerce. we have seen state-owned companies and enterprises buy the assets of private companies, such as smithfield food and start up completely new companies such as new airlines in the middle east. now, there's nothing inherently wrong with state-owned enterprises, paying a premium on market value to purchase a
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company. however, the actions of the company and its legal obligations after the transaction is complete are what i intend to focus on today. the united nations estimated in 2014 report that there are over 550 state-owned transnational companies with cumulative assets of over $2 trillion. that would -- many would argue that the estimate of $2 trillion in assets under management is a conservative number. there are many different -- there are many differences between state-owned companies and companies that are publicly traded, and that's the difference that i'm going to concentrate on. first, state-owned companies are not subject to the same transparency requirements as publicly traded companies.
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publicly traded companies must adhere to the generally accepted accounting principles and the standards therein and file quarterly annual reports like 10-q's and 10k's with the securities and exchange commission. secondly, state-owned enterprises have the implicit backing of the various governments of the countries they domicile in giving them access to credit oftentimes at cheaper rates than individual private companies could hope to find. the most valuable companies in america based on market capitalization are worth between $500 billion and $600 billion on any given day. while fortune 100 companies are
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large, their resources then pale in comparison to government wealth. finally, state-owned enterprises report their strategies, profits, and losses to governments. hence, they're not accountable to shareholders in the way that publicly traded companies are. therefore, it is prudent that we take time to consider how foreign state-owned enterprises are participating in this american economy, in agriculture, state-owned enterprises have started to buy publicly traded american companies so smithfield foods was sold to a proper incident china food company in 2013 for four and seven tenths billion in
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change. china is currently trying to buy the swiss base seed and chemical company senjenka for $43 billion, about a third of their $12 billion in revenue come from the united states of america or maybe more generally north america which is what makes this transaction very concerning for me. while some could argue these investments are similar to foreign direct investment, what these chinese state-owned enterprises are really buying is our resources and our expertise in food production, including and most importantly the tellectual property that fuels the development and growth of the great american agricultural sector. even if these transactions
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function seamlessly for the first ten or 15 years, there are strategic questions we need to consider today before approving the sale of any more of our agricultural assets to another government. for that reason senator stabenow and i ask the committee on foreign investment in the united states commonly referred to as sifias to thoroughly review the proposed sanjenka. sifias is responsible for reviewing the national security implications of transactions that result in foreign control of u.s. businesses and critical infrastructure. there is a shared sentiment among lawmakers, military
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officials, and everyday americans that protecting the safety and the resiliency of our food system is core to american national security. the food security of our country is not something that we can take for granted and as i have said so many times before, at any given time we're only nine meals away from revolution. as i mentioned, i also have concerns about the legal obligations and accountability of foreign state-owned companies, particularly as they relate to those companies' interactions with american companies and consumers. now, i've heard several recent reports noting cases where companies owned by foreign governments have claimed that they are immune to lawsuits by
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american companies or american consumers in our very own courts. they've made this claim even when a foreign state-owned company or one of its corporate affiliates has been engaged in normal commerce with american consumers or other american companies. in making this argument, these foreign state-owned companies would try both to take advantage of our market and to avoid the rules and potential liability that every other market actor must face. and, of course, that doesn't seem right to me. and it's not the way our laws are set up to work. it's an age-old rule of international law that one
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sovereign nation should not subject another country acting in its sovereign capacity to the authority of domestic courts. our courts recognize this principle -- our courts recognized this principle long before congress wrote it into statute. that theory developed at a time when personal sovereign - ruled. the sovereign was the same as the state. chief justice ruled in an opinion when he explained that our courts had no jurisdiction to hear americans' claims against france to recover a ship seized by order of napoleon. but there have long been important exceptions to the doctrine of foreign sovereign
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immunity. one of those is the so-called -- quote, unquote -- "commercial activity exception." just 12 years after his opinion about napoleon's ship, chief justice marshal explaininged that -- quote -- "when a government becomes a partner in any trading company, it divests itself of its sovereign character and takes on the character of a private citizen." end of quote. for that reason, over the last several decades, both the state department and the supreme court have recognized that the original purposes of foreign sovereign immunity -- that is, respect for the person and the governmental acts of a foreign sovereign -- are not served when the doctrine is invoked to protect a sovereign's private acts. this development resulted from
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the need to ensure stability and predictability in international commerce after state montana monopolization in descrition like communication and transportation. and it's based on the notion that when a sovereign nation enters the competitive marketplace, it no longer acts as a sovereign at all and must follow the very same rules as every other market participant. so in 1976 we codified those principles in statutory law by enacting the foreign sovereigns immunity act, referred to as fsia. under the fsia, foreign sovereigns immunity extends not only to foreign sovereigns but also to political subdivisions
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and even corporate entities owned by foreign sovereigns. but, importantly, the fsia also codifies exceptions to the foreign sovereign immunity principle, including -- very importantly -- the commercial activity exception. as i said, i've seen reports noting cases where companies owned by foreign governments have claimed that they are immune to suits by american companies and american consumers in our very own courts when they're suspected of doing something wrong. and sometimes their arguments have succeeded, which raises then now my concern and concerns that the exception may not be working as designed. let me give you one example. americans bought much of the
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drywall used to rebuild new orleans after hurricane katrina from chinese manufacturers. thousands of homes built with that drywall turned out to be uninhabitable because residents say the drywall made them sick. so these americans tried to sue the chinese manufacturers, including the manufacturers' parent company, cnbm. the problem for the consumers is that the chinese government is heavily invested in these manufacturers, among many other commercial enterprises. under the general principle of foreign sovereign immunity, a foreign government selling americans a product is not acting as a sovereign but is actually a market competitor. one would assume that the
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commercial activity exception to the foreign sovereigns immunity applies, but the state-owned manufacturer argued otherwise. here's how it works under statute. foreign companies are sued in our courts all the time. commonly, these lawsuits, like the drywall case, involve claims of american consumers or companies that the foreign company engaged in some behavior that harmed them. when a foreign company is sued in one of our courts, it has a chance to show at the beginning of the case that a foreign government owns a majority of its shares. if the foreign company makes that showing, it then enjoys a presumption of immunity under the fsia, meaning that the plaintiff's lawsuit will be dismissed. but before that happens, the plaintiffs have one more chance to save their case from early
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dismissal. this is where the commercial activity exception comes into play. by showing that the foreign state-owned company was acting as a market participant -- that is, engaging in commercial activity that takes place in or effects the united states when it caused the harm the plaintiff complains about. the principle -- this principle, the commercial activity exception, saves a case from early dismissal and gives plaintiffs a chance to move forward and try to prove up their claims against a foreign state-owned corporation behaving like a competitor and a market actor. but as it turns out, that can be a complicated showing for a plaintiff to make at such an early stage in the case. here's why. companies owned by the foreign states are often governed
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through their very complicated corporate structure. take, for example, the large chinese insurance company backed by the chinese state bank in its recent attempt to purchase an american hotel chain. in describing the attempted takeover, the "wall street journal" described the chinese company's ownership structure as -- quote, unquote -- "opaque." yet, in implementing the fsia, courts require plaintiffs to meet the commercial activity exception at every level of corporate organization or they must show that various levels of organization acted only as corporate pass-throughs and therefore can be ignored. here's why i think that may be a problem. corporate parents can exercise an extraordinary level of control over subsidiaries what concluding that -- without concluding that the subsidiary
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is a mere pass proliferate through. requiring plaintiffs to show commercial activity at every level of corporate organization at such an early stage in the lawsuit runs the risk of ignoring high-level involvement in conduct that allegedly hurts plaintiffs. if plaintiffs don't satisfy this showing against a pairpts company at -- parent company at an early stage in their case, they may lose the chance to establish their clams. now, what this means as a practical matter is that this mechanism puts foreign companies thew happen to be -- that happen to be owned by sovereign states at a distinct advantage over private foreign companies. a private foreign company has no mechanism for early dismissal of a lawsuit on these grounds. a private foreign company would be required to respond to the plaintiff's allegations, and it would have to produce evidence during the course of the lawsuit
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relating both to its control over other parts of the conglomerate and also to its involvement in the activities alleged. as a result of this early dismissal mechanism, the plaintiff's case in new orleans could only proceed against one subsidiary. that happens to be the cnbm. the case against cnbm itself was dismissed. now, it may be that these plaintiffs still wouldn't have been able to establish liability on the part of cnbm in the end, but they didn't even have that opportunity. this is something that i want to consider carefully. if a foreign state-owned company is able to shield parts of its organization behind the fsia to avoid having to answer a lawsuit
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entirely in a way that the fsia doesn't contemplate when a privately owned foreign company would enjoy the same luxury, then a fix may be in order. the point of the commercial activity exception to foreign sovereign immunity is to treat foreign governments like any other market actor when they enter into commerce. nothing about the principles of foreign sovereign immunity or the fsia is designed to afford extra early defenses to foreign companies' commercial actions just because the company happened to be owned by foreign states. but currently a foreign state-owned company are arguing that many of these afill yawts don't have to -- affiliates don't have to answer the claims of american companies and american consumers, even when it's clear that at some level
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the company engaged in market activity that may have harmed americans. sometimes, like in the new orleans case, the companies are succeeding. so i think that may be a problem. that's why i took the time to speak now on the floor of the united states senate. and i intend to look at it very carefully and possibly seek legislative remedy. i yield the floor. ms. baldwin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: thank you. last week -- let's start with last weekend -- americans woke
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to the news of a horrific mass murder in orlando, florida. gunman, a u.s. citizen, inspired by terrorist terrorists, legalld a weapon of war and turned it upon members of the lgbt community on latin night at a nightclub in orlando, florida. 49 dead, 53 wounded, and senators returned from their home states last week to express thoughts and prayers, to observe moments of silence, and many of
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us resolved that while important, those were not enough; that we needed to follow up those thoughts, those prayers, those moments of silence with action. i joined my colleagues, a number of us, on the floor when senator murphy of connecticut held the floor for 15 hours to draw attention to two common sense amendments that would have limited that easy access to a weapon of war by closing a loophole that allows so many of our firearms purchases to occur without a proper background
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check and to close something we're calling the terror gap which would allow the f.b.i. the authority to deny gun purchases to people who had been on a watch list suspected of connections with terrorism. those measures gained a vote last night but both failed to advance. i don't think we can simply say that we tried and continue to accept shootings like the one in orlando as the new normal and then move on to other business, especially, and i might add our procedural posture right now, especially as the senate has
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before us at this period in time the commerce, justice, science appropriations bill measure in which we can prioritize our response to this tragedy and the preceding tragedies through amendment and perfecting the measure before us. you know, americans are demanding more. we can't just carry on as usual in the wake of these enormous, enormous domestic tragedies. wisconsinites are demanding more. just in this last week, i received heartbreaking communications from my constituents asking us to act. i wanted to briefly share two. a young mother wrote to me, i am
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the young mother of two young children and every day that they go to school i say a silent prayer that they come home safely to me, that no one decides to walk into their school or on to their bus with a gun and an intent to kill. another young person wrote to me, i'll quote from the letter. as a young lgbtq person, i'm devastated by this attack on my community. i'm scared that this attack happened in what was supposed to be a safe place, a free space in a world that is often hostile for lgbtq people. i am scared for my safety and
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for the safety of my community. i am also angry. i am angry the united states is the only country where shootings like this regularly occur, and i'm angry that our government is not doing enough to prevent this kind of violence. the attack in orlando was, as i mentioned, an act that is allegedly inspired by maybe isil or other terrorist groups, but it was also an act of hate, a hate crime. and i've introduced an amendment with my colleagues, senator mikulski of maryland, and senator hirono of hawaii, to increase funding, to strengthen
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the prevention of hate crimes, and then the enforcement of our hate crimes laws and our civil rights laws. the amendment is now cosponsored by 18 other members of the united states senate. i think it's really important to understand what a hate crime is. a hate crime is a crime, first off, that has to be an underlying criminal act so it's not about hate thought or hate speech. it's been a crime wherein the victim of the crime or victims of the crime are targeted based on a particular characteristic. sometimes we hear about hate
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crimes committed against the lgbt community based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but hate crimes are often perpetrated against people on the basis of religion or race or ethnicity or gender. hate crimes targeted against people based on their characterization or their characteristics are done so because not only are the victims victimized but it sends a message of terror and hate through a community, through all people who share characteristics with the victims or who love people who share the characteristics of the victim. and they are terrifying, and
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they do deserve as we have chosen to do in the united states of america to be treated very specifically as hate crim crimes. it's only recently that the united states of america recognized hate crimes against members of the lgbt community or against women or against people with disabilities through the passage of the matthew shepard and james bird, jr. hate crimes prevention act. there are too many of these hate crimes in the news these days where -- we're still grieving the passive numbers of dead and injured in orlando but it was
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not all that long ago in charleston there was mass murder in a church. the african-american community was targeted. in wisconsin in another place of worship in a sikh temple in oak creek, wisconsin, a gunman came and targeted a congregation during sunday worship. now, in america hate crimes overall are declining, and that's good news and that says something about what we can do together when we pass strong laws and try to prevent these crimes, educate, as well as enforce our laws.
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but i'm sad to share that while overall our hate crimes are declining, those against some groups most notably muslims and members of the lgbt community are on the rise. lgbt people are more likely than any other group to be targeted for hate violence, and lgbt people of color and particularly transgender women of color are at the very greatest risk. so the amendment that i have offered along with my colleagues senator mikulski and senator hirono would provide in the commerce, justice, science appropriations bill additional
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funding for the civil rights division to focus on hate crimes prevention on one hand but also enforcement and prosecution of those crimes when they occur. this amendment will provide important tools to the justice department that they need to combat discrimination and hatred in communities across this country. we're pleased to have a large number of human rights organizations in this country endorse this as an important step forward. we need to take action. we need to do more to address terrorism, to address gun violence, and to address hate crimes. and i urge my colleagues in the
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senate to join me in calling for a vote on this amendment and supporting it when we get that opportunity. madam president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. a senator: i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated, please. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: i have 1212 requests for committees to peat during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and the minority leaders. the presiding officer: so noted. a senator: i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum of. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. i am on the floor today to focus on some really flynting news -- frightening gnaws we got -- news that we got late last week, news that shows how important it is that we get emergency funding to the president' president's deska funding right away. last week three babies were born in the united states with birth defects linked to zika. three other pregnancy didn't make it to term as a result of this virus. as a mother and grandmother, my heart goes out to these families. and as a united states senator, i am extremely frustrated that four months since president obama first asked for a strong emergency funding package to respond to this frightening virus, congress still has not sent anything to the president's desk. because, unfortunately, the
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longer we wait to act here, the more those numbers are going to grow. in fact, tom frieden, director of the c.d.c., has said in puerto rico alone, hundreds of babies could be born with birth defects related to zika. there are already nearly 2,200 reported cases of zika in the united states and the territories and more than 400 expecting mothers are being monitored for possible infection. mr. president, this is, without a question, a public health emergency, and what makes it all the more frustrating is that we have an agreement that could go to the president to be signed into law right away. now, while it shouldn't have taken so long, senate republicans did finally agree to work with us on a down payment on the president's emergency funding proposal. the agreement that we reached would give communities more resources for vector control. it would help accelerate development of a vaccine and
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critically provide much-needed preventive health care, including family planning services like contraception to families who ask for it. this package has support from both sides of the aisle. all senate democrats and nearly half of the senate republicans voted for it. but it has now been a full month since that agreement passed here in the senate, and unfortunately instead of acting on it, house republicans chose to move to conference with their own underfunded, irresponsible proposal that offers just a third of what is needed to combat this virus and drains much-needed resources from the on-going ebola response effort. mr. president, with the health and well-being of women and babies on the line, now is not the time for nickle-and-diming. it is not time for debates about taking from one health care priority to support another. this is the time to act because every infection prevented is a potential tragedy prevented. and there's no good reason why
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we can't get a strong emergency funding proposal to the president's desk this week. families are looking here to congress for action on zika. it is well past time that we delivered, and i hope that we can gate this done -- get this done without any further delay. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor, and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mrs. gillibrand: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mrs. gillibrand: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mrs. gillibrand: i ask unanimous consent that we can vitiate in quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. gillibrand: i ask unanimous consent to be able to speak for a few moments before the gavel comes down at 12:30. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. gillibrand: thank you. mr. president, i rise to speak about three amendments to this bill that i think would help keep the american people safe from gun violence. after so many tragedies, including the mass murder earlier this month in orlando, this chamber has had one opportunity after another to do something about the gun violence crisis. and last night was our most recent chance. the american people are watching us, waiting to see what we'll do, wondering if this time,
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after yet another mass shooting, after yet another hateful, angry person was able to have such easy access to a weapon of war and to use it to kill quukly a crowd of innocent people, maybe this time the senate would act. but, no, this chamber did nothing. the senate didn't pass a single bill, not even a bill to prevent someone on the terror watch list from buying an illegal gun. not one. how many innocent people have to be killed by guns in this country before congress is actually convinced to act? the senate failed the american people last night, and there's no other way to put it. we aren't listening to our constituents who are desperate for congress to act. this chamber hasn't done anything to help keep the american people safe in the aftermath of so much violence. every time a mass shooting happens somewhere in america, just like the one that occurred
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in orlando, we hear the same calls for stronger, better, tougher laws. the american people overwhelmingly support them, and nearly every time the gun industry and its powerful lobby do whatever they can do to block these bills to protect their own profits. it's the same cycle over and over again, someone with no business handling a powerfully deadly weapon of war has easy access to that weapon and then uses it to kill many people quickly. we have to make it harder for hateful, violent, radicalized people to get their hands on weapons of war. the only way to change this, the only way is if congress fulfills its responsibility to protect the american people and pass new laws that help keep us safe. now, mr. president, i have three amendments. they are new amendments that have not been voted on this session, and they are three amendments that actually could


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